Video released on Iran’s state TV shows seized fuel tanker matches MT Riah

This undated photo provided by Iranian state television's English-language service, Press TV, shows the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker MT Riah surrounded by Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels. (Press TV/ AP)
Updated 18 July 2019

Video released on Iran’s state TV shows seized fuel tanker matches MT Riah

  • Iranian state media earlier Thursday said a tanker was seized with crew of 12 aboard
  • US official expressed suspicion that Panamanian-flagged Riah had been seized in Iranian waters

TEHRAN: Iran's state TV English-language channel has released a video of a ship seized by Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces accused of smuggling fuel out of the country.

The Press TV report showed the ship's registration number on its bridge, matching that of the MT Riah, a UAE-based vessel that turned off its location tracker as it entered Iranian territorial waters early Sunday.

Iranian state media earlier Thursday said a tanker was seized with a crew of 12 aboard for smuggling fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers and was intercepted south of Iran's Larak Island in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. It did not name the vessel or identify the nationalities of the crew onboard.

A US official had expressed suspicion that the Panamanian-flagged Riah had been seized in Iranian territorial waters.

Britain said on Thursday that a tanker seized by Iran on suspicion of smuggling fuel in the Gulf was not British-flagged.

"We are not currently aware of any UK interests in this vessel," a British government spokesman said.

 


Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

Updated 21 January 2020

Will Turkey abide by provisions of Berlin Summit?

  • Expert says sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in Libyan conflict unlikely

JEDDAH: With the conclusion of the Libya peace summit in Berlin on Sunday, it remains to be seen whether Turkey is willing to implement the provisions of the final communique and stay out of the conflict.

Ankara is accused of sending Syrian fighters to the Libyan battlefront in support of Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA) against military commander Khalifa Haftar’s forces.

During the summit, French President Emmanuel Macron voiced concerns over the arrival of Syrian and other foreign fighters in Tripoli, saying: “That must end.” 

Samuel Ramani, a geopolitical analyst at Oxford University, speculates that Turkey will not deploy more troops.  

But he told Arab News that a sudden end to Ankara’s intervention in the Libyan conflict is unlikely for the moment as Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country will remain present “until the GNA’s future is secured.”

Noting the difficulty of enforcing the Berlin agreement, Ramani said Turkey might not be the first mover in breaching a cease-fire in Libya.

But he added that Turkey will not hesitate to deploy forces and upend the agreement if Haftar makes any moves that it considers “provocative.”

The summit called for sanctions on those who violate the UN Security Council arms embargo on Libya.

Turkish opposition MPs recently criticized the expanded security pact between Ankara and the GNA, saying the dispatch of materials and equipment to Libya breaches the UN arms embargo.

Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.

Micha’el Tanchum, Analyst

The summit does not seem to have resolved ongoing disputes regarding the Eastern Mediterranean pipeline, a planned natural gas pipeline connecting eastern Mediterranean energy resources to mainland Greece via Cyprus and Crete.

The Cypriot presidency accused Turkey of being a “pirate state,” citing Ankara’s recent drilling off its coasts just a day after Brussels warned Turkey that its plans were illegal.

Erdogan dismissed the warning and threatened to send to the EU some 4 million refugees that Turkey is hosting.

Turkey dispatched its Yavuz drillship to the south of Cyprus on Sunday, based on claims deriving from the maritime delimitation agreement with the GNA.

Turkey’s insistence on gas exploration in the region may be subject to sanctions as early as this week, when EU foreign ministers meet in Brussels on Monday.

Aydin Sezer, an Ankara-based political analyst, drew attention to Article 25 of the Berlin final communique, which underlined the “Libyan Political Agreement as a viable framework for the political solution in Libya,” and called for the “establishment of a functioning presidency council and the formation of a single, unified, inclusive and effective Libyan government approved by the House of Representatives.”

Sezer told Arab News: “Getting approval from Libya’s Haftar-allied House of Representatives would be a serious challenge for Ankara because Haftar recently considered all agreements with Turkey as a betrayal. This peace conference once more showed that Turkey should keep away from Libya.”

Many experts remain skeptical about the possible outcome of the summit. 

Micha’el Tanchum, a senior fellow at the Austrian Institute for European and Security Policy, said: “Until we see what specific cease-fire monitoring and enforcement mechanisms will be implemented and by which foreign powers, we don’t know what arrangements, if any, have been agreed upon.”